Basketball Top Scorer Continues to Lead

Columbia Alumni Association Medalist: Helen Yeager ’85

By Aubri Juhasz '18

Helen Doyle Yeager ’85 was honored with a 2018 Columbia Alumni Medal at University Commencement on May 16, in recognition of her building of Columbia’s community through her devotion to its athletics.

A three-sport athlete in high school, at Barnard she decided to focus on basketball. “I went into the gym and I asked the coach, Nancy Kalafus, if they ever had tryouts for walk-ons,” Yeager remembers. “She kind of laughed at me and she said, ‘Just come to the gym. You’re on the team.’” Today, Yeager still ranks among the College’s all-time top scorers and rebounders.

In 1983, when Columbia College admitted its first co-ed class, the Columbia-Barnard Athletic Consortium was formed, allowing Barnard athletes to play as Columbia Lions. Yeager served on the Consortium, and in 2008 was honored as one of the twenty-five most influential women in the group’s history. She continues to serve as an advocate for women in sports and is a member of the Leadership Committee for the Columbia Campaign for Athletics: Achieving Excellence.

Her efforts to serve extend outside of Morningside Heights, too. Last year, Yeager joined the board of Citius, a nonprofit baseball program that helps low-income teens get recruited to Division I colleges and the Major Leagues. Says cofounder Melvin Perez, “We were struggling and Helen came in and helped us develop the programs. She’s definitely been a blessing.”

After Barnard, Yeager earned an MBA and is currently a managing director at MUFG, the world’s fifth-largest bank. She credits the College with helping her prepare for the intensity of the professional world. “Something about the energy, the highly motivated spirit influenced me,” Yeager says. “Barnard changed my life.” •


Aubri Juhasz ‘18 lives in Brooklyn and works at New York Magazine.

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